Try a new tack to meet your fitness goals

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Eight percent. That’s right, you read it correctly, 8 percent. That’s the percentage of people who were successful in keeping their New Year’s Resolutions in 2012.

In fact, according to a study done by the University of Scranton and published in the Journal of Psychology, only 46 percent of those who made resolutions were still keeping them six months later.

I’m actually pretty impressed by that number. The study confirms what most of us already know. The No. 1 resolution is to lose weight, followed by No. 5 of staying healthy and fit and No. 7 to quit smoking. That makes three of the top 10 resolutions related to health and wellness.

Spending more time with family? Number 10. At least it made the list.

After 20 years in the fitness industry I know what’s coming in January.

Big dreams of “The Biggest Loser”-style weight loss, crazy diets that either totally restrict calories or have you eating nothing but grapefruit (now that was a good one) or steak and eggs, and high expectations that “this is the year everything changes.”

Sound familiar? How about you join me this year in resolving to do things a bit differently. Let’s resolve to be SMART about our health and fitness goals for 2013. Make them specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound.

Specific: Goals that are specific are just that. Clearly specific. Instead of stating, “This year I’m going to get in shape,” a specific goal might be, “In May 2013 I’m going to finish the Balloon Stampede 5k Walk/Run.”

Measurable: A goal that is measurable is also objective. To say “I’m going to start working out this year” is very different from saying, “In January, I’m going to walk to work three days a week.” This goal is measurable and it’s also specific.

Attainable: Goals must be attainable. If your diet sees mostly burgers, fries and soda and you make the announcement that in January you’re going vegan … well, that’s not only unrealistic (see below), it’s also pretty unattainable. Nutrition choices are deeply seated in habit and take time to change. A more attainable goal for this person is to begin including one vegetable at lunch and dinner everyday.

Realistic: Can I just say this right now? The massive numbers of weight loss you see on shows like “The Biggest Loser” just aren’t realistic. Now, don’t get me wrong, you’ll find me watching the show along with millions of others, but please don’t come to me and ask for those kind of results. Realistic weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week. While most people don’t like to hear that, studies repeatedly show that slow, steady weight loss is not only the safest way to lose weight, it’s also the best way to keep it off.

Time bound: A goal that is time bound has certain parameters around it. You might hear someone say, “I’m going to lose weight before my son gets married.” Time-bound goals often have a plan with smaller goals set along the way. Turning this into a time bound goal could sound like this, “I’m going to lose 10 pounds by my son’s wedding in June by safely losing 1-2 pounds per week.”

So, let’s make 2013 the year we stop making resolutions and start making health and fitness goals that are SMART. And, if you need help, seek out the assistance of a certified trainer or health coach. They’re ready for you and can help you make 2013 the year you achieve your goals.

Leslie Snyder is group exercise director and personal trainer at the Walla Walla YMCA. She is an NCCA ACE certified personal trainer, health coach, and group exercise instructor and has worked in the fitness industry for the last 20 years.

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